NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One of the nation’s most highly-respected throws coaches, Ashley Kovacs, will serve as associate head coach and throws coach for the Vanderbilt women’s track and field program as announced by Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Althea Thomas on Monday.
“I am thankful to be here,” said Kovacs. “Coach AT is a big-time coach. Her positive energy is contagious and it’s going to ignite the entire program. Vanderbilt track and field is a sleeping giant and and I look forward to fulfilling my role in the awakening.”
“I am thrilled to announce Ashley as our associate head coach and throws coach,” Thomas said. “Ashley’s reputation nationally and internationally is second to none. She has gained notoriety throughout the NCAA with her passion, knowledge and ability to prepare her athletes for the highest competition. Ashley is a proven coach who can develop and help athletes reach their NCAA and Olympic dreams—which is the pinnacle of our sport. She’s a young superstar and helps complete our coaching staff which I think is one of the best in the nation.”
Kovacs has mentored a world champion, three NCAA champions, 17 All-Americans, 24 conference champions, 31 NCAA appearances, three regional Athlete of the Year honorees, six top-3 finishes at NCAAs, and 10 conference championship teams.
Kovacs came to Nashville after seven years at Ohio State where she coached throws and served as the recruiting coordinator. In Columbus, she mentored two national champions to three NCAA titles, 15 Big Ten champions, 24 top-3 conference finishes, four conference record holders, four Big Ten Athletes of the Year, and four more to Athlete of the Meet honors at the conference championships.
A three-time regional Coach of the Year, Kovacs led Adelaide Aquilla to a pair of national titles in the shot put, while Sade Olatoye won the 2019 weight throw crown. Aquilla ranks No. 4 all-time in NCAA history in the shot put, while Olatoye set a Big Ten record with ten titles in seven meets, and set career highs at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in the shot put (17.88m/58-8 ft.) and in the weight throw (24.07m/78-11 3/4 ft.). Her weight throw performance placed her third all-time in the NCAA’s history. In 2017, Olatoye became the first woman to win both the shot put and weight throw at a single Big Ten championship.
The Ohio State men’s and women’s record books are littered with Kovacs’ athletes. Among many, Nick Demaline finished his first season in Columbus with a third-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (19.21m/63-02.50 ft.) and a Big Ten Outdoor championship in shot put. All-American J.C. Murasky finished his Buckeye career ranking third all-time in program history in three events and won multiple Big Ten championships, while Carly Pendleton collected Honorable Mention All-America honors in the discus and Alyssa Gary earned Honorable Mention All-America honors as one of the top shot putters in school history.
Prior to her time with the Buckeyes, Kovacs spent two seasons at Western Kentucky where she was the 2014 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year after guiding the women’s throwers to 10 of the Top 25 throwing marks in program history, including school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put, weight throw and discus. The Hilltoppers won the indoor and outdoor conference championships in 2014 as Kovacs mentored Jessica Ramsey, who became Western Kentucky’s first female student-athlete to qualify for three different events at the NCAA outdoor championships. Ramsey also was an All-American and seven-time conference champion.
As a graduate assistant at Murray State in 2011-12, Kovacs tutored the throwers and mentored Tonia Pratt to Ohio Valley Conference championships in the weight and hammer throws. Pratt then claimed indoor and outdoor OVC Freshman of the Year awards.
A four-time All-American at Kentucky from 2006-2010, Kovacs was an 11-time All-SEC selection, an SEC Most Valuable Player and Commissioner’s Cup winner, and a runner-up in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. Kovacs participated in the U.S Olympic trials in 2008 and 2012 and graduated with school records in the shot put and discus.
Kovacs earned her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Kentucky in 2010, added a master’s in human development and leadership from Murray State University in 2012 and a second master’s degree in sports coaching from Ohio State in 2017.
A native Ohioan, Kovacs is a graduate of North Canton Hoover High School (2001-2005), where she was a three-time state champion and former state record holder in the shot put.
Kovacs (nee Muffet) is married to Joe Kovacs, who is a two-time world champion and a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the shot put as a member of Team USA (2016 Rio, 2020 Tokyo).